Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 Preview – Space Hippo
August 25, 2016
They titillated you with excessive naughtiness throughout Oni. They put your immortal soul at risk by exposing you to the horrors of Hitodama. But this year Wishes Mystical Puppet Company intends to blow your mind across half the solar system with their new puppet oriented masterpiece Space Hippo. Prep the countdown to their premiere, as Daniel Wishes takes Showbill.ca’s Matt McLaren on a ride through space and time.
Matt McLaren: Every so often I come across artists that I feel are stumbling into outright shamanism in the artistic process. By this, I’m referring to humour and clowning being incorporated into storytelling in such a way that the work seems to cheekily leave our plane of existence. Feel like any of this describes you?
Daniel Wishes: Our shadow puppetry is very visual and silly by nature. We animate the puppets in full view of the audience and try to be entertaining in every movement that we make. We’ve been told that we are good clowns even though we don’t really think of ourselves as clowns and haven’t taken any clown training.
MM: 2014’s Fringe favourite Oni got me hooked bad on you guys. So much so that I’m still bummed I missed out on Hitodama last year. What have you got in store for us this time?
DW: Instead of using folk tales like Oni and Hitodama, Space Hippo has a totally original story that is very funny as well as touching. Our puppetry for this show is far more sophisticated than anything we’ve done before. While Oni had about 70 puppets, Space Hippo has over 200.
MM: This is the first show in two years that doesn’t directly concern itself with shadow puppetry in supernatural medieval Japan. Were you afraid of getting typecast and decided the furthest direction to flee to was outer space?
DW: We’re not tired of medieval Japan. We’ll probably return there again. But we really like science fiction and thought that shadow puppetry would be an awesome way to take the audience on an epic voyage through space and alien worlds.
Let’s talk process. What’s familiar that returning and what’s new and exciting? How did it spark, flare and finally blaze by the time the curtain went up?
DW: We still perform in the same style, sitting underneath the screen so that you can see us animating the puppets. We incorporate both English and Japanese. We have the same sense of humor. But we have a much larger screen now. We created a double light system now that makes the show much faster paced. We use laser and other special effects. And we have a completely original musical score created by Elliott Loran that makes you feel like you’re experiencing a true space opera.
MM: What are your personal hopes for this Victoria Fringe? If there’s one success you could walk away with, what would it be?
DW: We would like for as many people to see the show as possible. We’ve only performed it in one other fringe festival so far but people seem to be connecting with the show very deeply. We hope that after we leave the festival, it will be a show that people think about and remember for awhile. Of course if the audience is voting for their favorite shows, it would also be nice to have some laurels for our posters.
MM: If I challenged you right now to incorporate one new risk into the show before you bring it to life in Victoria, what do you suppose that would be?
DW: I have no idea. I think our show might already be risky enough.
Why should people come and see Space Hippo?
Space Hippo is amazing. Trust me. Just go see it. You won’t regret it.